Winter 2013 Trip Reports

Summer overview:

With the flooding in the Eastern Rockies and Foot hills I had to cancel my overseas trip for the Summer. With no overseas distractions I began focusing on Raspberry, or more accurately the preparation for the Fall season. Normally we have been hampered by the Winter Permit system which limits our trips to reactionary day trips. If we went early then we could in theory be in the cave as long as we wish. Discussions with Parks Canada began so we could camp with in the cave outside of the Permit system. Waste management procedures were discussed and approved, number of people camping , basically all of the odds and ends concerning conservation and safety of this amazing resource. Accommodation was also provided in Rogers Pass for people doing "day" trips (this was hugely beneficial). I also began spending all of my money I had and was making on equipment that would be required for the upcoming season (bolts, glue, an new applicator, containers, cave bags, etc). The Grant from the Royal Canadian Geographic Society arrived and quickly disappeared towards 500m of rope, and 100m of Dyneema cord.

Dive training requirements and a personal equipment list went out to the team (every year they must go for training outside of the "in-house" training we do, also this year I would not be supplying them with bottles or regulators as mine would be needed up in the cave at sump 3 and sump 4.

We began training/experience building in other areas of the project: We were doing regular diving nights, indoor climbing sessions and outdoor night aid climbing sessions (All team members had to be a good belayer and aid climb if needed). We even did some survey practice for a few team members who were less experienced. The most enjoyable "training" was the Canyoning, by far! We had been doing night, and day canyoning trips to get team members together working on rope in and around water. The high light of the trips was the 4-5m jump into a plunge pool!

It was coming together. The gear was ready, the team prepped and permission from Parks Canada to camp if the situations and objectives justified it. All that was needed was to get into the cave.


September 29th, 2013

Charlene Barker, Katie Graham, and Nicholaus Vieira

Katie and Charlene were interested in going to the Pass to carry some of the dive kit up to the cave and check water levels. I checked with work, and was currently not booked for a tour, so I asked for the time off and it was granted. Early in the morning Katie and Charlene picked me and a pile of gear up, we were Raspberry bound! 3 hours later the truck was pulled over and we were off loading it at the trail head to the cave. After a short hike, we were standing at the entrance with good fortune as the entrance was passable. We changed in the warm sun and entered the cave. The water was definitely higher than in May when we were here last. After checking on all of the kit left over the Summer, we prepped the dive kit and dove into the murk that was sump 1. Surfacing on the other side Charlene began another shuttle run through the sump as Katie and I prepped the equipment needed to reclimb the Nick Point. After climbing to the first ledge I secured a rope for Katie and Charlene to follow. The water was pounding down the Nick Point necessitating holding ones breath for potions of the climb. Fun stuff! Once at the top of the climb I secured the rope and Katie cleaned the climb joining me at the top. I checked the anchors then rigged the fixed rope in its place. Katie rappelled last pulling the ropes out of the force of the water. We were on our way out with a lot more done than was hoped for. We had a climbing kit, a glue-in kit and 500m of rope across through the sump, with the Nick Point rigged! We left for home feeling good with the progress made.


October 11th, 2013

Christian Stenner, and Nicholaus Vieira

The unfortunate thing about running a project this size/varied is the amount of organisation and equipment required. I arrived in Glacier National Park of Canada after picking Christian up from the Bus station in Canmore. We then sorted accommodations and moved my Jeep full of gear into the apartment. The final sorting, organising, and stripping of gear began. Christian and I finally began the trip up to the cave in the early afternoon, we then kitted up and shuttled the gear through the first sump, took some photos, and returned to the apartment to meet Diana arriving sometime in the evening. We have7 more cylinders to carry up this weekend plus rig a few of the climbs, check the equipment stored in the cave and survey new passage.


October 12th, 2013

Diana Kirkwood, Christian Stenner, and Nicholaus Vieira

We the mules trudged up to the cave beneath our loads. Having no snow to deal with did provide a small relief. On arriving we changed and sorted gear to go through the sump. Christian having to run a 50km mountain race the next day did a few shuttle runs through the sump. On his return from his final run we bid fair well and slipped beneath the water. I followed Diana as it was her first time through the sump. Grabbing the survey kit, climbing kit and some dive gear we began moving up through the cave to the Kracken. Diana was thoroughly impressed with the cave. On arrival at the Kracken I re-climbed it and rigged the permanent line on the pitch. We then wandered down a side passage to check off and push any leads.

The goal (a bit slow to push sump 4) is to push and survey new passage with every trip in the cave. So as we re-rig the cave and move the dive kit up to sump 3 we would systematically start exploring the leads left from the previous seasons.

The lower passage to the Wall of Know was checked with no going leads we headed to a passage below Whispering falls to survey it. Upon completion, we headed back to my vehicle, as Christian had borrowed Diana's to get to the race.


October 13th, 2013

Diana Kirkwood, Gavin Elsley, and Nicholaus Vieira

Gavin arrived in the morning, and we headed up again with loaded bags. Once through the sump and atop of the Nick Point it was clear that Diana was quite fatigued from the trip from the previous day (She had drove 8 hours the day before after work just to get here), so we scaled back the plans. Dropping the dive kit we were carrying half way along the Dream Collector we continued to the top of it to an lead with an amazing echo. Gavin went in to have a look as I prepared the survey book, it did not take long for him to tell me to follow. Diana opted to stay at the entrance to the lead as squirmed twisted and slowly worked my way up the passage to Gavin. The small twisting passage popped out into a room, with collapses at either ends. Each of these were investigated thoroughly by Gavin, to the point where he had stripped himself free of his harness, helmet and other assorted to force his body through a small opening between the collapsed rocks. Once through he was sitting in a small void between hanging death (boulders), with no way on but back. We paused just long enough for a survey leg, shooting through to him and in interesting discovery. Wood! this was the first organic debris found upstream of sump 1, making the squeeze worth it. With some reassuring relief Gavin arrived back to the correct side of the break down to continue surveying back out. Having marked all stations when surveying, both previously and during each new survey trip, made tying our survey into the rest of the cave simple.

Returning to Diana, who was feeling better, we made our way back to the entrance pausing to capture a few photos. Late in the evening Jeremy arrived.


October 14th, 2013

Gavin Elsley, Jeremy Bruns, and Nicholaus Vieira

Diana left in my Jeep to pick up her car in Lake Louise where Christian had left it. I would get a ride from Gavin to my vehicle after the exploration trip. Our goals were twofold: First, was to shuttle all of the dive kit to sump 2. Second was to go back to Freedom 65 re-rig the rope up into it, and climb into the lead where the main passage terminated. We made great time out to sump 2, then paused briefly to take some photos.

Shit, $%#@, shit.. I looked at my hand when the familiar but bad feeling came from. I could see into it looking at tendon and torn skin, then the blood came. It was very obvious that I needed stitches. I caught up to Jeremy and Gavin who were waiting for me. I explained what had happened, and that stictches would be needed. With some show after the tell they agreed. I was then moved to the middle of the group so I would have people in position to help  and watch over me. Once down the Kracken (I opted to rappel under my own power instead of being lowered) we stopped to quickly sort gear then we made our way to the first aid kit. Jeremy played doctor, cleaning and patching the wound for the journey out. Down, down we went, kitting up I dove through the sump and changed. Once down to the Arch we paused again to clean and dress the wound before we arrived at the vehicles. We then drove to Canmore, stopping to get my Jeep before arriving at the Hospital. I left with 7 stitches saying good bye and thanking Gavin for the help (Jeremy had to go earlier).


October 26th, 2013

Katie Graham, Christian Stenner, and Nicholaus Vieira

I was up early sorting accommodations, gear etc when Katie, Christian and Jeremy arrived in the Pass. Jeremy would be staying behind to do work on some work projects, while Katie, Christian and I would head into get up the climb that was the focus of the trip when I had cut myself. Arriving at the gear depot at the base of the climb into Freedom 65, I climbed first, then secured a hand line for the others to use if they wished. Once everyone and the equipment was on the first ledge I continued climbing and rigging the hand line, while Katie put in 2 screws to better anchor the bottom hand line. Once completed we continued to the base of the climb, where I informed the others that they would be doing the climb. Katie stepped up. After a bit she had topped out and secured the rope, I followed with the survey kit to find Katie jamming herself into a crack to no avail. It did not go. This was the best looking lead to continue above the sumps, now the focus would turn back to sump 4. Christian came up, cleaned the climb and rigged the pull down. After the tie-in shots were made (and Katie dropping the socket), we pulled down and began the trip to the entrance. Tomorrow would be a big day, returning to sump 3.


October 27th, 2013

Katie Graham, Jeremy Bruns, Christian Stenner, and Nicholaus Vieira

With the main dry lead killed the previous day we decided to all head up to Sump 3 carrying dive kit, climbing (with my spare socket) and survey kit. Moving gear up through the cave kept us warm, even through sump 2. Up we went until we arrived at Strawberry Shake. I grabbed what was needed for the climb, and started up with Katie belaying me. I spent a few minutes eating water fixing the last bit of protection before going free over the top. I was glad I was wearing my dive mask, as it allowed me to see some holds. Once up I fixed the rope and the others soon joined me at the top, with Jeremy dropping the socket wrench into the torrent of water. We continued up the next few climbs to the low air space swims and finally to sump 3. We dropped the kit, Christian and Katie headed back out of the cave (Christian having to be at work in the morning), while Jeremy and I began resurveying the swim section. During the original trip an error appeared in the data so I decided to resurvey the whole section.

Shivering from being immersed in the glacial water we had finished the survey. Heading out I placed two glue-ins at the top of Strawberry Shake. Soon we were out walking down the mountain by star light. When we arrived at the accommodations Gavin was just finishing cooking ribs for dinner having arrived a bit earlier than expected.


October 28th, 2013

Katie Graham, Jeremy Bruns, Gavin Elsley, and Nicholaus Vieira

Well it was push day! We were going to be in 3 teams. Gavin and Katie were to push the only lead between sump 2 and sump 3, a breakdown squeeze then continue to the Wall of know if it did not go. Jeremy would see me off then head back down stream and permanently rig Strawberry Shake and one or two of the other climbs. Myself I would be pushing sump 4.

Once at sump 3 we separated with Jeremy seeing me off, before he headed down stream. I slipped into the murky water only able to see 50cm in front of me. I traced my dive line and was amazed it survived the Summer torrents. I surfaced from sump 3 realizing that my drysuit was leaking, shit! I removed my fins and continued up to sump 4, maybe it will be short? When I arrived with all of the kit the water was brown, the last time I was there it was clear (May). I found a good anchor to belay the dive line to, with a good tie off I squeezed backwards into the sump. Moving past the blades of rock protruding from the walls I was in the main passage but had to turn 90 degrees. A search revealed no good line belays so I reeled the line back in and grabbed a large rock from the surface dragging it back under to act as the belay. In zero vis I secured the dive line to the rock and began finning my way through the murky water, searching for the reflective mirror of the surface. 20m in a back up light died, I continued looking for the surface, or a line belay. 35m I thought I saw a belay but a quick groping of the passage floor and walls revealed nothing. The cold from the water invading my suit was becoming too noticeable, so I stopped and thought.  Too many things were not in my favour, I checked my air I was still above my turning point. I dug a hole in the sediment floor and buried the reel. I will come back in better condition with better gear. I could not hear air breaking the surface, or water plunging in, this sump has past all of the others in length the ceiling is not rising, the sump is going flat. I retraced my path following the laid line in the zero vis, until I squeezed to the surface, dejected but knowing I made the smart choice. Continuing down the passage with my gear I returned through sump 3 with nobody around.

After dekitting I moved down the passage and found Jeremy contently rigging, from my face he could tell I was unsuccessful, I re-laid the story. He asked how wet I was, at which point I opened a wrist seal allowing water to gush out. I decided to jump up and down while he rigged then if the others have not showed up we would head out.

As if on cue Jeremy finished rigging when the others showed up, they reported squeezing through the breakdown emerging into large borehole passage going in both directions, up and down stream. They began surveying upstream where it split into two passages. They managed to survey one to a finish with only an aven as a lead. The other they pushed to another breakdown squeeze. They then quickly looked down stream for 50 or so meters without it choking, so they returned do to time (they had to be at work in Calgary in the morning). We all headed back down to the surface together. We parted ways as I headed back to the accommodation to clean it up, not having to work the next day.


November 23rd, 2013

Christian Stenner, and Nicholaus Vieira

With the announcement of the Winter Permit system I had one more trip to push the cave before going to reactionary exploration techniques. Christian stepped up to have some fun with me. I was in the Pass with the gear ready when he drove in. Dropping his stuff off at our accommodations, we had a quick bit then began our approach. With there being 2 1/2 feet of new snow since we had last been to the cave, this allowed us the pleasure to break trail with snowshoes for around 3 km with the regular equipment in our bags, Scuba cylinder, caving gear, and the other miscellaneous tat. Changing within the cave entrance, we packed the gear to bring through the sump and passed through into Raspberry Rising II. Moving up through the cave I was slightly relieved to switch my burden (an 80cu ft Scuba cylinder destined for sump 4), my relief was short lived as I hosted the climbing kit to my back. Arriving at sump 2 I pushed through first to rig a handline on the 4m climb just beyond the sump. Once finished Christian joined me at the top after passing my bag up. We continued up through the first low air section then crawled out of the water. We have reached the breakdown that Katie and Gavin passed to find the borehole they reported, surveying the upstream leads. Christian and I picked our way gently through the breakdown surfacing in the 12m wide passage. Our primary goal was to have a second look at the conclusions of the passages surveyed by Katie and Gavin, pushing the remaining leads.

We wandered up the passage until it forked we then took the right hand route, until arriving at its conclusion a mud, cobble wall with a 40cm diameter mud hole 5m up with a small trickle of water flowing out of it. It was very clear that it was a no go. Stepping back there was an obvious aven, so with our bright lights illuminating the ceiling something was looking as if it was continuing. We dropped our bags, and began prepping the climbing equipment. I racked up and tied in, Christian sorted out a safe place to belay from. The intended route for the climb was to move up in the corner opposite of the lead, as there appeared to be some ledges that would hopefully make for an easier climb (also I thrive in opposition style climbing). About 3m up a cantaloupe size foot hold gave way, so much for the nice ledges I was hoping for they turned out to be cobbles and other debris washed there over time and calcified in place. Soon I was placing screws in the least shattered rock as upward progression was made, after a few screws were placed I was 10m off the deck, and looking into going passage. Woo hoo! The next bit was a traverse across the ceiling, after which the rope was secured and Christian jugged up with the survey kit, cleaning and rigging the pitch. After an squeeze, the passage opened up for a short bit narrowing to a squeeze too tight for the efforts of Christian. Surveying out, we left the pitch rigged so the terminal squeeze could be looked at by some of the smaller team members.

We next turned our attention to the breakdown terminus encountered by Katie and Gavin. Gavin said it would likely go but they were getting a lay of the land so did not get time to fully explore the breakdown. Christian was the first person through the shifting breakdown squeeze, after wards he said I needed to follow with the survey kit. With some adjustment and repositioning of a few important rocks I joined Christian in a large chamber the passage ended in a dig. We surveyed out connecting into The previous teams survey. Christian was a little tired so we opted to head out. The glue-ins that were placed during the last visit allowed us to finally rig Strawberry Shake in the proper manor on our way out. Surfacing through sump 1 we changed into the appropriate clothing for the Winter that is embracing the surface. Sticking our heads out of the entrance we finally found out it was 05:00 am! It was a pleasant snowshoe to the vehicle.